I don’t remember exactly when I first self-harmed, I must have been around twenty-two, I think. I can’t remember the why either. But I do remember the how and where. I was at work, in the clothes shop, on the shop floor, it was a Saturday afternoon. It’s not as dramatic as you may be thinking, but this was where it began. For whatever reason I had the idea in my head, I was curious. I remember standing by the till and picking up a pair of scissors from the desk and slowly and slyly started to scratch my left arm. I hardly even broke the skin. But there was this high, maybe it was because I did it there on the shop floor, anyone could have seen. Or maybe it was because I knew it was wrong and fucked up. I get a kick out fucked up. Self-destruction is always top of the list. Either way, I knew that was just the start.
I’m not trying to glamourise or promote self-harm, I’m just being honest, otherwise this book will not work. And being honest, I fucking loved it.
I can’t remember how many days or weeks had passed until the next time, I can still just about picture it though. I’d been out, I’m guessing a pub on The Broadway, probably The Grand, then back to a mate’s flat, usually the one that lived above the drug dealer. This was before the days of twenty-four-hour licenses so we’d usually leave the pub about 10:30pm and head to the off licence before walking back to the flat. There would have been beer, Jack Daniel’s and cocaine. I’d quite easily get through eight can’s and a bottle of JD if I had gear.
I stumbled into my bedroom, I still lived at home then, I knew on the walk home what I was going to do. I was excited, turned on. I shut the door behind me, picked up a plastic coat hanger from the floor and snapped it to give it a sharp edge. I put it on the bed and sat down, I couldn’t wait, but I was calm. I slowly took my shirt off and sat on the edge of the bed staring down at my new toy.
I picked it up with my right hand and began to scratch my left arm. Fast, with anger, with intent, getting off with every rip. Just hard enough to break the skin but not deep enough to bleed out. It wasn’t about killing myself for me, it wasn’t a suicide attempt, it was a drug, another high. I wanted to punish myself, but I liked it. The next morning my arm looked like it been attacked by an animal. I never went below the wrist though, so covering it up was easy.
This carried on for a while, exactly how long I couldn’t tell you. On and off over a year, maybe two. I never regretted it though at the time, the opposite in fact, I got off on knowing that under my shirt sleeve my arm looked like it had been clawed raw and no-one knew.
It was always the left arm and always the snapped hanger, the same one, every time. Except, there was one night the coat hanger wasn’t going to cut it, no pun intended. Circumstances were the same, I’d been out, I got fucked up.
I walked into my room, took my shirt off and crumpled to my knees. I was scrambling around for my hanger, but I couldn’t find it under all the clothes on my floor. I knew the hanger wasn’t going to be enough this night, why I don’t know, but it was all I had. It had been loyal. I wanted to be loyal in return. Maybe I was drunker and higher than usual but it wasn’t there and I was getting more and more worked up. That’s when I spotted the empty beer bottle on the table next to my bed. I kept a wooden empty drawer under my bed as a sick bucket if I was ever too drunk to make it to the toilet, I pulled it out and smashed the bottle into the drawer.
Without even thinking I clenched my fist and punched it into the broken glass, lifted it up and did it again. I pulled my hand out, there were two shards of glass hanging out of my fist, one slid in between my knuckle along the flat of my hand. I just sat there studying my hand for a few minutes. Blood pouring down my arm. I didn’t feel any pain, I felt in control, serene.
I calmly pulled the glass out of my hand, stood up, walked over to my bedroom window, opened it, took the cigarettes out of my pocket and lit one.
That was the worst time, I can’t remember if that was the last time or if I carried on with the coat hanger a few times after that. But there was a good twelve years until I did anything like it again.
It was a month ago. I had just ‘come out’ to my friends and my best mate was round mine, it was only the second time we’d seen each other since telling everyone. He tried talking to me the first time but I couldn’t do it. I closed up. This time I found it much easier. We spent the evening sat in the garden drinking and talking, I opened up quite a lot.
Then for some reason after he left, I thought it would be a good idea to cut myself with a razor blade. I was in the bathroom and I just had this image in my head of walking into the bedroom with blood pouring down my face and from my wrists. I have found that talking about things does lead to me acting out, which both the GP and my Therapist warned me about.
I took apart one of my razor’s and pulled the blade out. I stood in front of the mirror and started to slice my forehead, but the blade was too small and wouldn’t go deep enough. So, I moved onto my wrists, I wasn’t trying to kill myself, it was like it wasn’t real. Like someone else was doing it. I just wanted to cut enough to see blood.
When I walked in to the bedroom and Sarah could see what I had done, she was scared shitless. I wasn’t in any danger of dying, but it was the fact I’d done it. The fact it could have gone wrong. The last time I hurt myself I hadn’t even met Sarah. This was the first time she saw me like this. I completely regressed. It was like I had to punish myself for talking to my mate, for feeling better.
It felt good, that rush was back, I felt insane but in control at the same time.
I thought I was done with self-harming, but the breakdown has completely twisted my head around. I haven’t done anything since, but I can’t promise I won’t do it again.
I hope I won’t.